I expect every cruising sailor still has cruising dreams to be fulfilled, but most of you have already experienced moments when you realized that the effort and expense had paid off.
Cruising World founder Murray Davis died in December (see the article “Remembering Murray and Barbara Davis” and photo gallery “Memories of Murray Davis”), and so in my February “Editor’s Log” I wrote about him and his view of the cruising dream (see “Letters to Murray”).
In that column, I invited readers to briefly describe those moments, which I’m now asking you to share in the space below. We’ll choose several of these to publish next October, in our 35th Anniversary issue.
I thought I'd answer my own post as a way of starting the ball rolling:
Although I can’t speak from the experience of outfitting and cruising in my own boat yet, I had an extraordinary experience on my longest passage yet, a trip from Panama to Florida on my friend’s Baltic, the SV Margalo.
Somewhere about halfway from the banks off Nicaragua to the western tip of Cuba, as we settled into the rhythm of reaching along, alternately, under the stars and sun, something special happened in my head. I felt kind of a magic sense of the wholeness of our mother earth and her oceans, and wrote the first lines of a song:
The sky is open over head
Across the latitudes
She welcomes warmth and coolness, too
He takes her hand in gratitude.
The song continues in that vein, and if I ever record the song with my guitar, I’ll share it with you. Meantime, it would be great to hear about a special moment--a time when the meaning or the magic of your efforts to cruise under sail really became clear.
Last edited by John Burnham; 01-12-2009 at 05:21 PM. Reason: double byline
Like new member I want to said thank Mr Murray Davis for this wonderfull magazine, forums & community. You did reality your dreams. Good for you and your family. You will be present between as all the time.
Crossing the Atlantic we were a thousand miles from anywhere. I was tired and a little disillusioned. Ocean sailing was scary and not what I had imagined. Until this particular night.
There was a breath of wind, just enough to keep the sails full. I was on watch sometime between midnight and four am. The ocean was so calm it was like a mirror and as I curled out from under the bimini to look around all I could see were stars. Millions of them, both above and below the boat! I lost all sense of place and was just sailing through the cosmos, it was hard to tell which way was up!The only sound was the gentle chuckling of the water as we sliced through the sea.
It was unbelievable and magical and then I understood. Sailing is the joy of the unexpected, the small moments that define a life that is being well and truly lived...
...And that is what i had hoped for from sailing. To live. And to be aware that I was living. I just hadn't expected quite such a beautiful awakening.
Dear Murray (and John),
What moved me to write this letter was the second statement on John’s log about the essence of cruising as “a developing skill, an art that has no finishing line, only degrees of competence and endless rewards”. I first went cruising when I was one month old and have continued for 55 years, and that statement is exactly how I feel about sailing and cruising!
Two years ago, my wife and first mate of 34 years and I took a year off to go sailing. We had sold our boat in the US and took delivery of our new Southerly 42RS in Itchenor, near Portsmouth, UK, with a loose plan of cruising the Atlantic coast of Europe and eventually sail across to the Caribbean, then up through the islands and intracoastal waterway to Portsmouth, NH, where we arrived exactly one year later.
Although we had done coastal cruising for most of our lives, we had never sailed together on an overnight offshore passage, so we had a lot to learn. Unknown to me, was that Gloria was afraid of how she would react to large seas. Well, we were lucky to have wonderful weather while cruising in Southern England, then across the channel and down the coast of France and northern Spain. I still wonder why most people skip this wonderful cruising ground and cross the Bay of Biscay non-stop!
It was sailing down the coast of Portugal when we were caught out on a stiff northwesterly breeze with 8 to 10 feet swells building rapidly. “Tango” behaved wonderfully under reefed main and jib. I had the swing keel up about two thirds, moving the center of rotation aft and giving the boat a very comfortable ride with the waves on the aft quarter. I was worried, not about the boat, but about my own physical endurance in that weather and the fact that our next port might not be accessible with these waves and we would have to continue south over night. However the day was sunny, Tango was sailing fast and comfortable, and I was happy. Later that evening, tucked in safely at our intended destination, Gloria confessed that she had been afraid when the seas had built up, but seeing my grin and my confidence on the boat helped her overcome it and she felt relieved of that fear I did not know about.
This is but one of many instances where we have both developed our skill to I higher degree of competence (seamanship?). The rewards are recorded in our memories and in hundreds of photos which we would be happy to share with you, including the one of Tioga, a beautiful 60 foot Hereshoff that took the best part of that beautiful morning off the coast of Portugal to pass us offshore.